ESOL in Goochland County

Just another Goochland County Schools Blogs Sites site

ESOL in Goochland County - Just another Goochland County Schools Blogs Sites site

National Anthem Sung

My Middle and High School classes recently completed our National Anthem unit in which I used the national anthem as means to review poetic and literary elements-in preparation for upcoming English/Reading SOL’s. Every day during this review my ESOL students and I sang the national anthem. I am proud to say that all students who participated learned how to sing The Star Spangled Banner!! I’m so proud of them! Here’s a video of one of my students and myself singing the Star Spangled Banner together.


Go Fund Me ESOL Family Fundraiser

Recently Elizabeth Nelson-Lyda set up a site at “Go Fund Me“ to raise money for the Correa family whose local restaurant business was burned to the ground in Hadensville. This fire has affected not only Jorge Correa and his family, but numerous of my ESOL families/students. Elizabeth posted this attached story on the Go Fund Me site and has asked me to assist in the fundraiser: Frida’s Mexican Grill, in Hadensville, VA, went up in flames on April 29, 2014. The story behind the family that was and still is Frida’s is one you need to hear. I hope you will help. Jorge (Sr.) and Anabel Correa immigrated to the United States nearly 20 years ago, legally, with high hopes that their hard work and perseverance would help them live the American Dream. Until recently, this has worked out well for them. They have two children, Jorge (Jr.) – 18, and Lilli  – 7. The Correa family is truly devastated over the fire. They invested – literally – their lives into renovating and opening that restaurant. It appears that an electrical fire started after the restaurant was closed on April 29, and gutted the restaurant. This family, and their employees, are feeling disheartened and as if the world is caving in around them. The Correa’s do have insurance for the contents of the building; but, they were renting. To add insult to injury, the building’s owner did not have proper property coverage on the building, and is considering action against the Correa’s if the Correa’s insurance does not pay for the renovation (if it can be salvaged) of the building that had an estimated property value of $420,000. Apparently, there was a clause in the rental agreement that indicated in some way that the renter should or would acquire property insurance on the structure as well. The restaurant had only recently opened and was making it day by day. It would have worked out over time; however, at present, employees have not been completely paid, suppliers/vendors have not been completely paid, and many, many bills are backing up. Jorge (Jr.) will be graduating high school next week and has already enlisted to be a Marine. Jorge (Jr’s) parents are PROUD. Jorge (Jr) deserves to have a graduation party and graduation gift, but there is NO MONEY to do this. There is no money to pay the workers (first), the general bills for the business (second), or the personal bills of the families (3), let alone give Jorge (Jr) the graduation party he deserves. The bills are backing up and these people are suffering. The insurance has not paid yet in the nearly 4 weeks since the fire; and, even so, what will they pay out and to whom? The loss of income has been devastating to more than the Correa family, as it has directly impacted many families in Goochland County, Virginia. The restaurant’s Facebook page is here Yes, it’s a very small town, with a population of around 21,000. We’re a proud town, with great people, but this endeavor could really use a LOT of help. Please help this small town business and family recover. Please restore their faith in the power of people, the American Dream, and doing things the right way. Thank you so much for your help! Warm Regards, Renae, Robin, and Elizabeth  

Liz’s Latest and Lucrative Inventions!

I can’t help but brag on my ESOL volunteer/tutor, Ms. Liz, who works regularly with two of my ESOL students. Ms. Liz and the teachers work in sync with the teachers, as we communicate daily or weekly about projects or specific homework tasks that need to be completed.

Below are two of Ms. Liz’s latest creations. The first one is the planet project. Ms. Liz assisted our ESOL student not only with completing his planet project, but implementing some ingenuity and creativity. Below is the planet hat that both she and my student came up with, complete with rotating planets and the sun as the center of the solar system.

I would be remiss to mention the most recent project Ms. Liz helped complete with a second ESOL student (sibling of the first:). This weekend, our student was required to create a “product” in which he is required to sell at his economics fair/store at school. Thanks to Ms. Liz’s ingenuity, our student will be selling his lucrative product “dog biscuits” at this fair. Tomorrow in Ms. Cachina’s second grade class, he will learn hands-on experience of what it is like to be a producer and consumer. He is also required to advertise his product. Below are some pictures as he and his brother completed the economics project in Ms. Liz’ kitchen.

Thank you Ms. Liz for all you do for these ESOL students of Goochland!!!!!

Dual Language Programs; Great for ESOL

US News “Two-for-One Deal: Earning College Credit for STEM in High School” recently published an article about the increasingly popular secondary education Dual Language Programs in the Field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). According to the article, some schools in Virginia plan to launch a dual-enrollment program in “mechatronics.”

This article caught my attention because these programs are especially helpful for incoming ESOL students in secondary education programs. These STEM dual-enrollment programs expose teens to university-level material and give them the chance to make progress toward a degree.  Again, this type of program is ideal for teen-age, adult ESOL students who enter high school with minimal English and academic backgrounds from their countries of origin. It is my hope that these programs will be readily available for Goochland High School ESOL students in the future.

National Anthem Assignment

Currently students in ESOL resource and ESL class are learning the words/lyrics to “Star Spangled Banner.” We are also covering a brief history of the War of 1812, the time in which the National Anthem was penned.

Because we are beginning SOL testing, I thought this activity would be a small diversion from the numerous practice tests that we are currently doing in ESOL resource classes. Because “The Star Spangled Banner” is written in the form of a poem, it is also a great opportunity to review the elements of poetry (i.e. alliteration in the sentence “Oh say can you see”). We discussed the type of meter the lyrics are written, which is iambic pentameter” and we discussed how poets abbreviate words such as “o’er” “watch’d” to create the appropriate meter for a poem.

Following are ways in which I am using the song as a way to teach reading/testing strategies in preparation for the upcoming SOL tests. These strategies are particularly useful for ESOL students when it comes to deciphering reading passages that are loaded with difficult vocabulary.

  1. Pre-Reading strategy; Visualizing. A great reading strategy is to “visualize” what you learn after you scan the reading passage. For this reason, I had the students listen to, read, and identify the words they already knew in the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner.” Then, I asked them to draw a picture with the vocabulary words they identified. Most of my students were able to figure out that there was a war scene in the song, as they were familiar with words such as “bombs/rockets/flag.” Several students successfully visualized the setting of the first verse of the song and drew great pictures! I believe that having a big picture of what you are reading helps immensely when it comes to comprehension.

  2. Vocabulary. Once we started to study the vocabulary words, we discussed how we can “infer” what vocabulary words mean in the context of a sentence. i.e. in the sentence “at the twilight’s last gleaming,” I asked students to figure out the context clues for “twilight.” Context clues in the “Star Spangled Banner” would be words such as “light” “gleaming” and “dawn.” Using these context clues to figure out the meaning of a reading passage is also very important to becoming a successful reader.

  3. Dissecting words: We are learning how to dissect the prefixes/suffixes, the parts of speech of different words, and the base forms of words in order to figure out the meanings. For example, with the word  ”twilight,” we can dissect the base form of the word down to “light.” Since we know what light means, we can assume that twilight has something to do with “light.” Another important reading skill is to understand the meaning of prefixes/suffixes. I constantly drill my ESOL students on the meaning behind prefixes such as “di” or “mono” “re” and suffixes such as “ous” “ly” “ing” “ed,” etc.

  4. Dictionary skills: For the word “perilous,” we identified that this word was an adjective. We recorded all vocabulary words on the classroom “Parts of Speech” chart, which is divided by nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs.  Once we figured out the base form of the word, students were encouraged to look up “peril” in their dictionaries. We discussed the fact that many words in the dictionary are the base form of words and that the prefixes and suffixes sometimes need to be removed in order to successfully find the meaning!!! This is an important SOL accommodation skill as all my ESOL students utilize a bilingual or English dictionary during SOL testing. Again, the ability to break down a word and identify the base form is very important in order to successfully pass a Reading SOL.

  5. Cognates: The ability to identify cognates in both English/Spanish (or other Latin/Germanic languages) is very useful for ESOL students when it comes to successful reading comprehension/test taking skills. Sometimes the base form of words are very similar in both English and Spanish. This also helps students to remember the meaning of words. For this reason, we were able to identify the following base forms/ cognates in the lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner,” which were “banner/bandera” “bombs/bombas” “bright/brillante” “gallant/galante.”

I find that my ESOL students can become successful SOL test-takers if they can become proficient in all the above reading/test-taking skills.  Teaching these skills through the medium of the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” is a great way to do SOL review! Singing a song creates a wonderful diversion to the tedium of SOL review practice tests. Our national anthem is a song and kids LOVE to sing!!  In addition to learning a VERY important song, I hope my students remember this activity in years to come. I hope to have a little part in helping my ESOL students develop pride and respect for this great nation as future citizens of the U.S.!

ESOL Volunteer Spring Luncheon; 2014

Yesterday, April 26th, we celebrated our 6th annual ESOL volunteer luncheon to honor the Goochland County ESOL volunteers/tutors who devote their time/energy to support ESOL students in the community. I was grateful to my sisters and father/mother, who helped me host the luncheon and to my brother/sister in law, who offered their beautiful Mt. Pleasant home as the setting for the luncheon.

In attendance were Heather Hodges, Liz Smith, Selma Herweyer, and Emily Ray.  Unfortunately, several of my volunteers/tutors were unable to attend. These individuals are Barbara Pickles, Geri Shields, Nancy Ashley, and Sally Hodges. I am ever grateful for the community support that my ESOL volunteers/tutors exemplify.

Learning That Generates Enthusiasm

I’ve blogged about the Social Justice/Preservation mural projects that my students created. As a result of our trips and presentations to different classes, both students/teachers have asked us to do more.

  1. My ESOL High School students are invited to visit Ms. Exum’s AP Spanish Class to continue our oral conversation skills in both Spanish and English and to continue discussions about social issues/conflicts/concerns. We are planning a trip to Ms. Exum’s class on Thursday, May 1st, to discuss religion and different points of view. I hope that this collaboration continues as it’s a great way for my ESOL students to practice oral conversation skills.

  2. Two students from Ms. Ray’s 6th grade class requested that they come and conduct follow-up “interviews” with my ESOL students regarding the mural projects and the Social Justice/Preservation subjects that they presented to the class. One of these interview regarding the mural project “Preservation of the Environment” was broadcast on the GMS morning news, Earth Day, April 22nd. A second interview regarding the mural project of “Poverty and Human Trafficking” will be broadcast on the GMS morning news the week of May 5th.

I have been delighted at the interest generated by students and teachers. This goes to show that when students are inspired by things that are bigger than themselves and when they can tangibly discover the connections to what they learn, the spark of exploration is generated. Once lit, teachers only need to stand back and watch. Students take charge of their learning!!

Mural Projects; Social Justice and Social Preservation


This past month, my students wrapped up with the second step of the 2014 G-21 project. Part 1 of our project consisted of  discovering the history behind the Mexican Revolution and analyzing the art of Diego Rivera “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon.” To tie into the theme of murals, students created digital murals through the use of technology in Part 2, G-21 project.

This part of the project involved extensive research and written artist statements, which tied in elements of literature such as universal themes, symbolism, and imagery. Each student chose social justice or preservation issues. Students were required to demonstrate how they are involved in addressing the problem through the creation of personal images or symbols in their murals. They created their murals in three separate drawing templates on google docs.

Finally, students demonstrated knowledge of their research by preparing presentations and presenting their murals to classes throughout GMS and GHS. Thanks to collaborating teachers, Ms. Ray (English 6), Ms. Brooks (English 6), Ms. Falconer (Social Studies 6) Mr. Rooke (GHS World Languages), Ms. Exum (GHS World Languages), and Ms. Kimberly (GHS World Languages). Each teacher graciously allowed my students to present their murals in their classrooms. Thank you to the Goochland County students at GMS and GHS who were incredibly respectful and supportive of my English as Second Language students-many of which have accents and limited English. Because of such amazing student support and interest, students confidence was boosted.

Attached are the WIDA templates I created that tie VA SOL (Standards of Learning) to the WIDA ELD (English Language Definition) standards.

Reading/Writing: Mural_WIDA_Rubric

Writing: Mural_WIDA_Rubric_2

Speaking: Mural WIDA_Rubric_3

Also, attached is the step-by-step worksheet that students used to complete this project, the rubric used to grade them and Goochland County’s G21 Rubric.

Steps_Mural Making


G21 SY 2013_14

Following are abbreviated student podcasts of their murals, followed by their digital murals.

Student_Podcast and Mural 1









 Student Podcast and Mural 4








“Go Beyond the Content”

On April 9th, I attended Scott Habeeb’s “Go Beyond the Content.” The title of the conference caught my attention and so I signed up for it! I am so glad I did. The message Mr. Habeeb promotes in his workshops/blog site corresponds to my own philosophy of teaching. His words rang true. Why have I chosen teaching as a career? What is more important as a teacher? Teaching content or changing students lives? These are the question Mr. Habeeb posed at the very beginning of his workshop. The people at my table turned and looked at each other with a look like “that’s a no brainer question!” The answer was unanimous…Of course we’re teachers primarily to develop student relationships and to impact children’s lives. Which teachers wouldn’t say this? It is good to be reminded of this question especially around this time of year when standardized testing becomes all-encompassing!

For me, it’s always been about student relationships. As a teacher, I want to be remembered in my student’s lives as the one who cared about them. But, mostly, I want to be remembered as the one who taught them something “beyond the content.” I want to be remembered as the teacher who pointed my students towards helping them make right decisions in their lives. Mr. Habeeb put it perfectly when he said “Life = Sum total of the choices you make.” He talked about how teachers must chose to be the “compass” or the “Mt. Olympus” in children’s lives. We as teachers have a choice regarding the impact we make in student’s lives. You can check out more about what Mr. Habeeb has to say at the following site entitled “Go Beyond the Content: Creating a Curriculum to Alter Students’ Beliefs About Life.” I highly recommend that every teacher listen to what Mr. Habeeb has to say.  There is one thing that he said that really stuck out to me and which sums up the workshop for me, again reinforcing my own philosophy as a teacher. “It’s not how much you know, but who you are that makes a great teacher!”